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Powerful Faith

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A Powerful Faith

Matthew 17:14-21

I.                    Intro

a.       It is interesting to see how people get what they want

                                                               i.      Some of us work hard- study hard, work ethic, not distractions, no compromises

                                                             ii.      Some of cheaters, if you can’t get it the honest way, get it the dishonest way

                                                            iii.      Some of us are charmers, have great charisma- we can’t get it ourselves, get someone else to get it for us

1.       Something they all have in common- persistence, they don’t give up- that’s why they have what they have

                                                           iv.      Quotes and examples of persistence:

1.       Benjamin Disraeli- “The secret of success is constancy to purpose.”

2.       Dale Carnegie- “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

3.       Example of Thomas Edison- “the Wizard of Menlo Park” who holds 1,093 patents. He finally succeeded after 6,000 attempts  “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

b.      Even in terms of relationships

                                                               i.      You ever notice sometimes some of the most attractive women are with the most unattractive men?

                                                             ii.      This is not Pastor Sung’s theory- they just won’t give up

1.       You keep chopping on that tree, it will eventually fall

2.       That is the story of my life-

a.       We would not be happily married if I had accepted her answer of no

b.      I don’t want to paint an inaccurate picture- my chopping was nothing like Joshua sieging walls of Jericho- my attempts lasted a mere 45 minutes until she gave in

c.       What if I had given up, she would have missed out on all this

c.       If this is the nature of achievement, would it not also be consistent in our faith?

                                                               i.      Those have because they do not give up

                                                             ii.      There is one huge factor we are missing in such assessments, in our faith, we have the giver of faith- who assures us success

 Reading the Passage

Opening Prayer

II.                  Pleading of the Father, v. 14-15

a.        The multitude

                                                               i.      They were arguing with the disciples

                                                              ii.      When they saw Jesus approaching, “they were amazed and began running up to greet Him” Mark 9:14-15

b.       The man

                                                               i.      He calls out to Jesus

1.       Why he called Him “Lord” we do not know but he did recognize that Jesus possessed divine power to heal

2.       Jesus was able to bring sanity to his son, his “only boy” Luke 9:39

a.        Who had this terrible condition since childhood

b.       This man didn’t realize it but he was about to bring his only begotten son before God’s only begotten Son

                                                              ii.      He asks for mercy

1.       Which means to demonstrate sympathy and compassion, restore his son to full health

2.       This boy had a serious illness that caused him to fall into fire and water

a.        This boy as possibly covered by burn scars to make him even more unaccepted by the public

b.       And not knowing when the seizures would come or go, he probably needed constant care

c.        We are told he is possessed by a spirit, he is mute and deaf as well (Mark 9:17)

c.        Every unsaved person is subject to the control of satan, “the prince of the power of the air.” Eph. 2:2

                                                               i.      The more he rejects God the more he leaves himself open to satanic influence

                                                              ii.      We do not the reason why Satan is attacking this boy other than his own reasons

III.                Powerlessness of the Followers, v. 16

a.        While Jesus was on the mountain with Peter, James and John

                                                               i.      The other disciples were unable to heal this boy

1.       In light of their previous commissioning by Christ and their past successes, why would they fail now?

2.       They had much success in the past casting out demons

a.        And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.  - Mark 6:13

                                                              ii.      So what was wrong?

1.       It wasn’t because Christ was absent, He was absent before

2.       They still had Jesus’ authority and power, yet they could not cure the boy

                                                            iii.      The explanation is obvious- they did not properly appropriate the power given to them

b.       The father so desperate turned away from the disciples to look to a higher authority- Jesus Himself

                                                               i.      It is so frequent that weak, faithless and indifferent Christians have caused so many unbelievers to look elsewhere for help

IV.                Perversion of the Faithless,  v. 17-18

a.        The disciples’ faithlessness not only frustrated this boy’s father but their impotence grieved Jesus as well

                                                               i.      God is grieved at the blindness, the weakness of His people especially those who He had entrusted, invested in, empowered them

1.       The frustrations of parents

a.        $240,000 per child

                                                                                                                                       i.      All the time, all the investment in energy and love

b.        “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.”  - Proverbs 10:1

c.        One of the great fears of a parent is abduction- often think about where my child maybe, what maybe happening to them and feel totally powerless- great fear

d.       But if one strays from God- it is equally troubling for a parent- to witness the lostness of a child

                                                                                                                                       i.      It is one thing to be a loser in life- it is another to be a loser in the eyes of God

1.       YG retreat speaking with a young man who was in tears telling a story of how he found his mother crying in her closet for him

2.       No greater joy you can bring to your parents to know you are walking with the Lord

b.       The entire generation was faithless

                                                               i.      The multitude which included scribes and Pharisees- came to indict Jesus

1.       Even the father calling Him Lord did not fully believe as he admitted, “I do have faith, help my unbelief” Mark 9:24

c.        Not only were they faithless but perverted

                                                               i.      Perverted, was a basic idea of twisting or bending out of shape

1.       Here Jesus was not speaking of their moral perversion but spiritual perversion

2.       Anyone who does not genuinely trust God cannot escape having a distorted view of Him and His will

“Everything in your spiritual life depends on the sort of God you worship. Because the character of the worshipper will always be molded by the character of what he worships. If it is a cruel and revengeful God, the worshipper will be the same, but if it is a loving tender, forgiving, unselfish God, the worshipper will be transformed slowly , wonderfully, into this likeness.”  - Hannah Whitall Smith, The Unselfishness of God

a.        What we believe about God is foundational to our entire belief system

                                                                                                                                       i.      If we are wrong about God, we will be wrong about everything else

d.       Witness the frustrations of Christ

                                                               i.      He had just experienced a unique experience of fellowship with God on the mountain, His transfiguration

1.       He had the selfish, the multitude, He had the evil, looking to persecute Him, He had the stupid, His own disciples

2.       You may be in a situation much like Christ…

3.       What’s the point?

a.        A pastor at times feels great discouragement, am I making a difference?

                                                                                                                                       i.      Until you receive a random IM or e-mail that says “I love you and I appreciate that you are my pastor”

                                                              ii.      Nothing was going to deter Him from continuing on with His Father’s business

1.       Neither should you, no matter how difficult it maybe around you, how discouraged you maybe, It is God who is in control, It is God who works all things out for those who love Him, It is God works in you for His will and purpose, It is God who began this work in you and shall complete

e.       Jesus rebukes the spirit and demon has no choice but to leave the boy

                                                               i.      And the boy was cured

1.       the crowds “were all amazed at the greatness of God”

V.                  The Power of Faith, 19-21

a.        The purpose of the healing went far beyond the healing itself

                                                               i.      No tony did it bring health to the boy, joy to his father but more importantly glory to God

                                                              ii.      But for the disciples the learning was just about to begin

b.       They question Jesus privately, in a house, maybe one of the homes of the disciples

                                                               i.      They were perplexed- why couldn’t they do when they had performed the feat before?

1.       You had empowered us before, we performed the feat before, why now?

                                                              ii.      The answer- “because of the littleness of your faith”

1.       This didn’t mean that didn’t have any faith, but because of the littleness of their faith- it rendered them powerless

a.        We have a pretty big hill by our house

                                                                                                                                       i.      I drive a Honda accord- that is the official licienced car of jundos- but my wife has a bimmer

b.       The disciples had trusting faith to some degree otherwise they would not have attempted to save the boy

c.        Bu they lacked the power to accomplish the task

c.        Having Little faith was typical of the disciples

                                                               i.      During the fierce storm on the Sea of Galilee, He rebuked them before He rebuked the waves, “Why are you timid, you men of little faith.”  Matthew 8:26

                                                              ii.      Peter began to walk on water, noticed the waves and began to sink, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  Matthew 14:31

d.       Little faith is the kind of faith that believes in God when you have something in your hand, when God has made His provision to you

                                                               i.      When things were going well for the disciples, everything seem to be under control, they found it easy to trust in God

1.       But as soon as things began to become a little rough, so went their faith

2.       When we are healthy, strong, vibrant, when things are going well for us- it is easy to trust in the Lord

a.        When the sun is shining and everything is going well, who wouldn’t give god all the glory?  Who wouldn’t sing praise to Him?

b.       That’s not what defines our faith- it is when your wheel has fallen off and you find yourself in the ditch and everyone knows you are in the ditch, what will you say then, to whom will you give your praises?

c.        Because if faith doesn’t mean anything then, it doesn’t mean anything at all

                                                              ii.      Great faith trusts God when you lost your job, when you lost your marriage, you lost your children, lost your spouse, when you lost your reputation

1.       When the wind is howling and you look into that wind and turn your face to God, that is the face of powerful faith

e.       Jesus was giving them a glimpse of what it was going to be like without Him

                                                               i.      They won’t have their security blanket anymore, He won’t be there to hold their hand, to reassure them, to tuck them in

                                                              ii.      He was teaching them that they had to grow, to change because their lives were going to change

1.       And the strategy Jesus wanted to teach them was persistence

a.        We don’t know how often they attempted to cast out the demon, but at some point they did quit

b.       And there was a powerful point that Jesus was wanting to show them

                                                                                                                                       i.      Their power was not inherent of themselves- it came only through Christ and His provision alone

                                                            iii.      This truth would protect them from two points:

1.       Not to be too cocky- its not about you

2.       Not to be too discouraged- it is not about you

                                                            iv.      Dietrich Bonhoeffer- Christ will never call unless He offers faith to go

1.       “It is only the call of Jesus which makes it a situation where faith is possible. Obedience to the call of Jesus never lies within our power. The step into situation where faith is possible is not an offer which we can make to Jesus, but always his gracious offer to us. Only when the step is taken in this spirit is it admissible.”

f.         It is very encouraging to see the Scriptures not blindly make all godly men into flawless heroes but it makes their flaws very apparent

                                                               i.      When you read Acts and the Epistles- they had unique gifts and able to perform miracles- but there was always a sense of dependence

1.       At times they had to wait- just as He makes us wait- a very long time for an answered prayer

a.        Just like an athlete who gains strength as he slowly adds more weight to his training, or  a runner adding distance each time he goes out

b.       So a believer gains faith as he encounters each obstacle and difficulty in life as they expose us naked and drives us to the Lord

                                                                                                                                       i.      I was encountering a difficult time and went to my pastor- welcome to ministry, you haven’t seen nothing yet

g.        “Truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed” v. 20

                                                               i.      It seems as if Jesus was contradicting himself

1.       He rebukes the disciples for having little faith and then says if you have faith the size of a mustard seed- which happens to be the smallest seed known to man in the region of Palestine, you can move mountains

                                                              ii.      The nature of the illustration

1.       Jesus is not pointing out the size of the mustard seed, but rather how the little seed grows into greatness

a.        Jesus says it is when the mustard seed fully is grown, it becomes a tree

b.       Small faith can accomplish great things only when it grows into greatness like the mustard seed- then it can move mountains

h.       What then does faith the size of a mustard seed look like?  Persistence

                                                               i.      It continues to grow because it doesn’t know how to stop- it doesn’t allow anything to stop it, a mustard seed faith is one that never gives up

                                                              ii.      Jesus explained this principle as how we should pray when telling of the man who went to his neighbor when he needed to feed a visiting friend

1.       He kept knocking on the door

a.        "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”  Luke 11:8

2.       Widow who would not take no for an answer,

a.        Indifferent judge gave her legal protection, he said, “by continually coming she will wear me out."  Luke 18:5

And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"  Luke 18:6-8

i.         This is a bold faith, it is an intrusive faith, borderline obnoxious faith, daring God

                                                               i.      You may feel uncomfortable with such a statement, where is the reverence?

1.       Let me give you a quick illustration:

a.        Remember the story of Jacob

b.       When he was up against the wall- he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord

                                                                                                                                       i.      Gen 32:24- his name was changed

                                                              ii.      What are some advantages of Perseverance?

1.       It is our nature to persevere- because love perseveres- Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Cor. 13:6

2.       It reaps the greatest reward- “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  - James 1:12

3.       It is necessary to do God’s will- “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. - Hebrews 10:35-37

4.       You will see God- “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.  James 5:11

j.         The Promise

k.        Just as Jesus promises in Luke 18, he promises here- “nothing shall be impossible”

                                                               i.      It is conditional

1.       That it is according to the Lord’s will

a.        Moving mountain faith is not based upon faith in oneself, much less faith in faith but faith only in God

                                                                                                                                       i.      “Is there anything impossible for the Lord?”  Gen. 18:14

b.       It is not your faith that moves mountains, but the object of your faith that moves mountains

                                                                                                                                       i.      Faith is only as powerful as the object of your faith

l.         What binds this all up, what assures that your faith in is line with God’s will? – Prayer

                                                               i.      Prayer does not serve to communicate your desires to God

                                                              ii.      Purpose of Prayer is to conform our will to God’s will

1.       James later wrote, “The prayers of a righteous man can accomplish much.”  James 5:16

a.        Fervent, passionate, bold prayers get results because they honor God

2.       Story of George Mueller

a.        Pray for five friends, five yrs later one came to the Lord, five more years, two more came to Christ, after twenty five yrs- the fourth came to Christ, he prayed for the last friend until his death, a few months afterwards, the last friend came to Christ, fifty yrs since he began to pray

b.       The LORD bless you, and keep you;
    25The LORD make His face shine on you,
         And be gracious to you;
    26The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
         And give you peace.'

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